Rachel Ware, a 17 year old ballet student, is about to embark on the next phase of her vocational training, in Boston, USA. Rachel has entered the Great Britons competition run by British Airways in connection with their sponsorship of London 2012. The programme offers free flights to upcoming British talent in the run up to the Olympics. Being very close to her family, it is important to Rachel that she is able to fly home for Christmas and holidays, which is why she entered the competition.
I am following Rachel’s fortunes and caught up with her recently.
I began by asking Rachel about her time at White Lodge (the Royal Ballet lower school based in Richmond Park). “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at White Lodge. I was continually pushing myself harder to improve and achieve my personal goals. I was always watching the older years and challenging myself to achieve their level. The days were long and intense but would always fly by so quickly, you never had a spare moment to get bored!
When I look back at my time at White Lodge, the greatest memories that always come into my head are of the ballets at The Royal Opera House that I have been fortunate enough to take part in. Firstly in Year 7 there was The Sleeping Beauty in which we were Garland dancers wearing lovely pink and green corseted dresses. Then in Year 8 came Swan Lake, we were baby cygnets who got the opportunity to perform on stage with many famous principal ballerinas such as Darcey Bussell, Tamara Rojo and Sarah Lamb to name but a few. In Year 9 I was fortunate enough to be a party child in The Nutcracker which was probably my most magical Christmas so far.
Another special memory I have is when in Year 9 I was lucky enough to be selected along with four other girls in my year, to take part in a BBC documentary with Darcey Bussell called ‘The Magic of Swan Lake’.
My five years at White Lodge passed so quickly but I am forever grateful for the wonderful training I had there, not only from the highly committed ballet staff but also from the supportive academic staff as well.”
What did you enjoy about performing at the Open Days outside on the lawn ?
I really enjoyed them as it was something very different. We once performed on the tennis courts at White Lodge but mostly on a purpose built dance floor on the lawn. The Open Days were so special with parents all pulling together and helping out on the numerous different stalls, such as the memorabilia stall, ballet stall, card stall and the ever popular cake stall! As I was a Junior Associate I was lucky enough to take part dancing in the open days for seven years running.
How did you feel studying in such an historic building ?
We were very fortunate to be studying at White Lodge. It was always very inspiring training in the same studios that many famous ballerinas have trained in. White Lodge from a distance in the Park looks like a magical dolls house.
What was your first pointe class like ?
My first pointe class in Year 7 was very exciting although quite painful at times!
What did you like about being based in Richmond Park ?
I loved White Lodge being in the middle of Richmond Park as every day when I drove into school I got to see the deer and the wonderful setting that surrounded the school. It definitely made me feel very lucky and privileged to be a part of something so special.
Did you get the opportunity to visit Richmond and the surrounding area ?
Being a day pupil I got to visit Richmond and the surrounding areas frequently. The boarders could go into town at the weekend.
What did you dance at the Richmond Fair on The Green ?
Performing at Richmond Fair on the Green was great fun for us all, especially in Year 9 when some of us were chickens from La Fille Mal Gardee wearing a big padded body with feathers, yellow tights and a red face piece! Somehow my mum still managed to spot which one I was!
Who inspired you at White Lodge ?
My inspiration at White Lodge was Darcey Bussell.
What do you remember about your audition to White Lodge ?
I remember my audition for White Lodge as though it were yesterday. I had a large number 2 pinned on the front of my leotard and I remember us dancing in the Margot Fonteyn Studio Theatre. There was a large panel with lots of the ballet staff on. I was very nervous and anxious but found the class very fun and enjoyed every minute of it!
Any advice for aspiring ballet dancers ?
Ballet can be such hard work and not always rewarding but if you want it enough and work hard enough then there is every chance you will succeed.
*Temps développé – Time developed, developing movement.